After the intermediate meeting held in Zagreb it is time to prepair for September. Here are some thoughts of how it was going so far on the project Brighter Side of Exercise, by Mirna Hajnic.
1. BSOE is a first Erasmus + Sport co-founded project of Fitness Academy Croatia. Why this topic?
There are few reasons. In the educational program of Fitness Academy, we emphasize health-enhanced physical activity (HEPA) as a priority.
Secondly, we are aware of the pressure of body image that is put on by media, fashion, and fitness industry. Fitness centers and clubs are potentially a very dangerous place for a person who has a risk of evolving an eating disorder because the fitness experts do not get any knowledge about that topic in their education. A person who potentially has an eating disorder will not benefit from excessive and unsupervised physical activity; actually, it might get even worse. That’s why it is of high importance to highlight the importance of HEPA, to educate fitness experts and to evolve the connection between fitness and eating disorder experts.
2. What was the most difficult part in the project so far?
The tricky part was to gather 14 sending organizations. We had very little time to present our idea to organizations and experts around the Europe and to make them interested and enthusiastic. But the most difficult part was (and still is) building the trust among clinical experts involved in anorexia treatment and fitness experts. We are still learning about this eating disorder, how to approach to this problem and still have a lot of work to do. I want to thank them all for the trust and patience they have for this project.
3. Were there any surprises or ”aha” moments that you were proud of?
There were a lot of positive moments like meeting all these great experts. I would like to single out meeting dr. Hubertus Himmerich (King’s College London) who made a great impression on all of us at the first minute of his arrival. Not only that he is a great expert, but he is also a great but humble man. Also, great awakening for us was when we participated in an open workshop where we heard some real stories of people with eating disorders. For fitness experts like us, with no previous experience, it was very emotional and valuable lesson.
4. There were some visits to other countries and their institutions for eating disorders and institutions for health enhancing physical activity. How did it go?
Yes, we visited Greece, Finland, Germany, and Slovenia to gather best practices. Meeting all their experts was inspirational, educational and proof that we were on the right track. The Project was acknowledged and singled out as necessary because it showed the lack of cooperation between clinicians and other experts that should be involved in post-treatment. Some organizations we visited already had implemented physical activity and got great results.
5. A beautiful cooperation was born not only with BEA but with sending organizations, too. Any comment?
One of the first experience we had with eating disorders was through Center for eating disorders BEA. Mrs.Jelena Balabanić-Mavrović is trying patiently to take us into the world of eating disorders. Also, there is dr. Handl and prof. Tončica Šiškov with whom we’ve accomplished great cooperation.
We also have a great team of sending organizations – they are dedicated to their work, open to new knowledge and trying to educate others about eating disorders.
6. This project, this bright story will culminate in September. What exactly will be happening?
In September we’ll gather a great amount of eating disorders experts, fitness experts, professionals included in the treatment of eating disorders and people who had an eating disorder. We’ll all unite and discuss this topic – why, how and when to implement physical activity and define the protocols that should be followed and what kind of sports activity is recommended and what is not. Also, we’ll discuss educating fitness experts in the field of eating disorders. All that while enjoying our beautiful seaside and using sport in a safe way as a key of social inclusion.
This project is just a beginning of establishing an EU network of experts and highlighting the importance of health – enhanced physical activity with people who suffered from anorexia and promotion of sport as a key of social (re)integration.